What News Should We Choose?

I've talked before about "information overload" on the Internet - too much news, facts, and data for any one person to comprehend - and the effect it has on our ability to understand the world around us. Well, Curtis Brainard in an article in the Columbia Journalism Review has suggested an alternative phrase for this problem, and I must admit his is better.

The problem is not information overload, but rather access-to-information
overload. Since well before the creation of the printing press, there has been
more news available on a given day than any one person could follow, and more
information than any one reporter could process. It’s just that today both
reporter and reader have much greater access to the news and information, and as
such, there is a greater need to employ filters and other tools to help us
organize and manage the deluge.
Great point, and I commend him for it, but, like so much of cjr.org, this article fails to go on and prescribe a solution to the problem.

Brainard suggests using Internet filters, bookmarks and RSS feed to sort through the information found on the web. Sure, it's good advice but it doesn't take a brain surgeon to realize you'll need to organize this tidal wave of information somehow. What he fails to suggest is what criteria readers should use in organizing the information they find.

Should they target a specific politician, political party or issue that they feel passionately about and subscribe to every RSS feed that mentions it? Should they sort news by geographic area, assume what's closest to them is most always the most important in their daily lives? Should they visit all the websites their friends and coworkers visit, so they will be able to keep up in water cooler conversations? Or should they bookmark only the news sites that give them the news they want to hear - all about honors students and adopting puppies with no indication of war or economic decline?

We all know that there is an "access-to-information overload," we see it everyday when we sign on to our web browsers. What Brainard needs to tell us is, What news should we choose?

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